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Fancy a Change? A Golden Opportunity for Social and Community Service Professionals

September 2021 by David Rogers

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Social and Community Services is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand professions in Australia. With more jobs available than people looking for work, it’s a candidate’s market right now – and it presents a veritable ocean of possibilities for qualified professionals to catapult their careers to a new level.

If you’ve been considering what your next step will be, here’s what you need to know to reap the benefits of this unparalleled opportunity.

The State of the Social and Community Services Market

Social and Community Services are always in high demand, but we are currently seeing an unprecedented number of roles left without skilled candidates to fill them. There are several key factors that are influencing the current talent shortage, including:

  • The loss of the international market, with overseas professionals returning home and border closures preventing new talent from coming in
  • A cohort of students graduating without the expected onsite experience due to the restrictions associated with COVID-19
  • Government funding triggering growth in the sector, without effective workforce strategies to manage it
  • Uncertainty amongst industry professionals about the potential risk of changing jobs in the wake of last year’s challenges
  • A changing market with increased client choice around the service providers they use, meaning that people in caring professions have to take on a sales role in order to gain work, and many of them are struggling to adjust
  • The casualisation of the workforce resulting from organisations being unable to guarantee clients or hours, which means many professionals are working for multiple service providers and are reluctant to leave a secure client base

A Golden Opportunity for Candidates

The significant candidate shortage that is driving Social and Community Services – and the subsequent competition amongst employers for talent – means that there is a huge number of roles available on the market.

The main pressure points we’re seeing are Allied Health, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, with the gaps in the workforce leading to a long waitlist for services both in Melbourne and nationally. Employers in Child Protection, Family Services and Aboriginal Services are also struggling to meet staffing requirements, due in part to the burnout that’s sometimes associated with these specialisations.

While this shortage is a major challenge for organisations, for professionals who are considering making a change during this time, the advantages are prodigious. Far from being a risk, opportunities are overflowing in the market, and will only increase as Australia’s population grows and more funding is allocated.

Top calibre talent will have more choice around where and when they work, how much they travel, and the flexibility, work/life balance, pay rates and company culture they enjoy when seeking a new role. At the same time, employers are putting more focus into how they care for their staff, and the greater support many workplaces now offer means the rewards of working in sectors such as Family Violence outweigh the challenges. Whether you’re actively seeking your next step or are merely open to the right opportunity if it comes along, you’re in a position to significantly improve your working life and find a role that truly satisfies you.

In addition, this is also a great time to explore new areas of your profession, transition into a different field or work more in your specialisation. For example, if you’re a Paediatric Allied Health professional who spends more of your time doing assessments for NDIS funding than you would like, this is your chance to find a role that allows you to upskill and be involved in the hands-on treatment and care of your clients.

My advice is to reflect on what you want from your career, and if a change is on your horizon, take advantage of this candidate-driven market to get there.

Tips for Job Hunting in the Current Market

So, if you’re considering what the future holds and are open to your next step, how can you get the most out of opportunities available to you? The following tips will ensure you’re in the best position to find your dream role:

  1. Try not to pigeonhole yourself – Don’t limit yourself to only applying for roles you have direct experience in. You have plenty of transferable skills that will allow you to move into other areas, so have the confidence to apply for things that are “outside the square”.
  2. Build your personal brand online – Leverage social media platforms such as LinkedIn to build your network and promote who you want to be. And don’t forget to be careful about what you post, as negative or unprofessional content could deter potential employers.
  3. Write a convincing cover letter – Ensure your application is tailored, clear and well-written, and don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar before sending.
  4. Be proactive – Make the effort to follow up with a phone call once you submit your application, particularly if it’s a role you’re not 100% suitable for. Employers are sure to remember!
  5. Be flexible – If you’re looking to step into a new area, you may need to consider dropping a level or taking a pay cut to gain the experience you need. This short-term cost is sure to pay off in the long term!
  6. Stay open-minded – Remember that just because you apply for a job, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. You never know when you might stumble upon your dream role, and just attending interviews is a great way to build relationships in the industry.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Our specialist Social and Community Services recruitment team at Tradewind will support you every step of the way; giving you more choice, helping you refine your job applications and prepare for interviews, negotiating job offers on your behalf and generally advocating for you to potential employers. 

To find out more about how we can help you find the right fit, get in touch with me today.